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Reflections on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Part 5

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Ninth Reflection

“And when they came to the place which is called Calvary, they crucified Him there.” (Luke 23:33)

 

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Prior to the crucifixion, we can imagine the infinite beauty of Our Lord, the beauty of His physique and the luminosity of His Sacred Face, where the aesthetic principles of the universe resided. The grace of His gestures, the elegance of His bearing, the sobriety of His manners and goodness must have exerted a strong attraction. When He spoke, who could imagine the tone of His voice, its inflections and unique capacity of expression?

 

But when He was nailed to the cross, He was deformed, without beauty, and one massive, bloody wound. This great victim was innocence itself. He had never sinned. He was the personification of virtue. He never had the need to make up for anything, but nonetheless, did so without measure.

 

Why?–because of the gravity of our sins. We should feel deep sorrow and regret at the sight of Him, the Innocent One Who bore sins with the sinner. He Who was most pure, most sacred, carried them for me! This should stir us to a great trust. One who was redeemed at such a price need only ask to obtain the necessary grace to practice virtue and the good that will lead him to Heaven.

 

Today, Our Lord’s pains are caused by the blasphemies and scorn against the Catholic Church, as well as the worship of the idols of a pagan society: egalitarianism, sensuality, revolt, impurity, murder, theft, adultery. Which of God’s commandments are not transgressed today? What is my attitude in face of this situation?

 

Facing my sins and the insufficiency of my atonement, I must kneel, strike my breast, and firmly resolve to sin no more.

 

Tenth Reflection

“When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He said to His mother: ‘Woman, behold thy son.’ After that, He said to the disciple: ‘Behold thy mother.’ And from that hour, the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27)

 

Saint John the Evangelist was at the foot of the cross also representing a sort of summit. His love had reached a high point. He was the beloved disciple.

 

On Holy Thursday, he had rested his head on Our Lord’s breast and heard the pulses of the Sacred Heart of Jesus then beating with love for all mankind. Later that night, just as the other apostles, he had slept and fled. However, he was the virgin Apostle, the beloved Apostle, and virgin souls, even in deplorable situations, find the means and strength to fulfill their duty.

 

On the other hand, God protects virgin souls. God attracts virgins to Himself. Thus, not only did Saint John have the honor of being the disciple of love, but also of being present at that summit of love when Our Lord died on the Cross. In this way he represented all the Apostles and rescued the Apostolic College from complete disgrace.

 

Furthermore, in this zenith of love he received the ultimate reward, because there can be no greater gift than for a person to receive Our Lady as a present. When Our Lord said, “Woman, behold your son,” and then to Saint John, “Behold your mother,” he received a priceless gift.

 


 

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Go to:  Part VI

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 18, 2019

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics, than many compli...

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November 18

 

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics,
than many compliant with the enemies of the Church
and conformed to the foes of our Faith.

St. Peter Canisius


DEFEND Our Lady's HONOR !

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

During the French Revolution, the Sisters of the Visitation...

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St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born on August 29, 1769 in the French city of Grenoble, Rose Philippine was baptized in the Church of St. Louis. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut and, against her father’s wishes, became a novice there when she was eighteen years old. However, the French Revolution caused much disruption for the nuns, and when the Sisters of the Visitation were expelled from their convents, Rose returned home.

She cared for the sick and the poor, helped fugitive priests, visited prisons, and taught children. Some time after the Revolution ended, she unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the Visitation community, and ultimately gave the convent to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and joined the Order. When the Bishop of New Orleans, William Du Bourg, requested nuns for his thriving diocese in Louisiana, Rose and four other nuns made the trip to America in 1818.

Rose and the nuns were sent to Missouri, pioneers of the New World. There, as well in neighboring states, they established multiple schools, built a convent, an orphanage, a mission school for Indian girls, a boarding academy and a novitiate for her Order. However, the strenuous and difficult regime of work for her apostolate took its toll on her body. She died in St. Charles, Missouri in 1852 after spending more than 30 years as a pioneer in the evangelization of the New World. She was canonized in 1988. Rose was truly devoted to God, and prayed in her every spare moment. Because of this, the Indians began to call her “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or "Woman-Who-Prays-Always."

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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